Friday, April 17, 2009

My Life Is Definitely Weird. But in a Good Way.

First, I have to ask: what's up with this? Is it really what they say it is? I'm . . . speechless.

I also need to point out this article, as sort of a follow up to my own Cosmonautics Day report. Disappointed. Really.

And third (and then I really will stop, I promise), it seems our Deirdre Dare has had her own issues with Jack recently. For the record, I published mine first.

This morning The Spouse had a conference call at 0800. Nothing so weird about that, you say. Except in Moscow, offices get going around 10:00 (and the work day lasts until 7:00 p.m.). This meant I had to take the children to school today.

So I did. I dropped off Baboo. Then I dropped off Skittles. I strolled over to the grocery store near the school where I scored two of these. Well, not this brand, but you get the idea. I got the only two in that store. They go in these. Which may or may not ultimately be responsible for my future dementia. Certainly won't be the vodka.

Then I slowly ambled home, taking a new-to-me route. Just because. It was cold this morning (we could see our breath), but sunny. The world felt good.

I put away my groceries. I did the dishes. I turned on the computer. And saw this email:

Can I buy you a cup of coffee on Friday if you are free. I am in Moscow for some hours and just thought it might be nice to try the meeting someone from online. I just don't know Moscow and rather than sitting reading in an airport or wandering around aimlessly, I thought I would try this.

We can swap expat wife stories or just drink.

It was signed by a woman who I knew from one of the expat forums, but had never met. By now it was probably around 10:00. I sent her an SMS, and we arranged to met outside my Metro station.

And I'm so glad I did. She was the nicest woman. Lives in a town about three hours by plane from Moscow. While I was happy to have a coffee with her, since she hadn't really ever seen anything in Moscow, I told her, "Let's go see Red Square."

So we did.

Below is Lenin's Tomb. If you can read Cyrillic, you can see L-E-N-I-N spelled out along the top. Above the name is where the Russian heads of state used to stand for parades. If you ever saw any of those photos of those serious old Cold War Communist guys, that's usually where they were standing.

Along the right side of the tomb, against the wall of the Kremlin (That crenelated wall? That's the Kremlin.) you can see two busts. You cannot see that there are also plaques along the wall. All those old Soviet leaders are buried along there (except Yeltsin, but including Gagarin). Unfortunately, you are not allowed to get close enough to see anything.

We went inside St. Basil's, the interior of which is more beautiful and jewel-like than Sainte-Chapelle.

I don't know why I had never done this before. It was easy. By that, I mean the ticket booth and the entrance were easy to locate and easy to manage.

Here's my friend, taking photos of the exterior.

Then we walked through GUM. I had only been inside once before. This time it was all done up for spring, complete with fake cherry trees and canned bird tweets.

While in GUM we went in Gastronom #1, which is a gorgeous tribute to what food and drink are supposed to be. The French moms say the bread there is quite good. I often see them carrying bags of it when they come to meet their children after school.

I didn't buy anything, but I could not resist taking a picture of these two. Say it with me: awwwww. They even have little icing mushrooms on their backs.

I want one.

BUT, and this brings me to my next topic, I am BACK ON MY NO CARB DIET, BABY! And I have been soooooo good this week. I have even lost a kilo. So no chocolate hedgehogs for me today, thanks.

I did finally break down and bought a gym membership. The Spouse, who recently acquired his own gym membership, has apparently grown weary of hearing me itemize my aches, pains, and other curses of old age. "I can't take another 30 years of this," he told me this morning. "I think a gym membership for you will do us both a world of good."

I won't actually have it in my hand until May 12, but I committed.

The way it works in Moscow is that you pony up an obscene amount of money to go to a gym for a year. If, for some reason, you have to leave town, you can sell the remainder of your membership. What I bought is good through January 2010. And for this I will pay 40,000 rubles (about $1200 US at 33 rubles to the dollar), which is a great price.

Why so expensive, you may ask. Rents, I guess. Even now, although prices are coming down, real estate in Moscow is nose-curlingly expensive.

Now what about the two months this summer when I am in Ohio, you may ask. Good question. Most gyms allow you to freeze your membership for periods like this. I can freeze mine for two months. So my membership will actually extend through March 2010.

I stalled about this initially, NOT because of the price (because it is a decent price by Moscow standards), but because, you see, I took most of my gym gear home last summer and left it there.

I have no gym shoes here. Nary a sports bra.

I don't want to run around Moscow looking for a decently priced pair of gym shoes when I have two pairs sitting in a closet in the US. I've stuck my head in sporting goods stores in the center, and the prices are mind-boggling. I have heard that there is a French chain called Decathlon here, and the French say the prices are in line with those in France. I was thinking I could try to find a Decathlon store when I realized . . .

This gym has a pool!

And since I seem to have the Mother of All Plantar Fasciitis Cases lately . . . yeah, yeah, I know. Nothing is more boring than someone singing My Medical Problems. But my point is that until this gets better, swimming seems ideal anyhow.

Coincidentally, my friend today has the same problem (and the same size feet as mine, too!). She recommended always wearing shoes in the house (I do wear my fake Birkenstocks inside because I had noticed that walking barefoot was painful).

"Do you own a pair of Crocs?" she asked.

Do I!
I shall give Muscovite fashionistas the proverbial finger with my bling-ed Crocs.


marina villatoro said...

what a great story! Which expat forum did you guys meet at?
The Travel Expert(a) and an Expat with a Twist

Tina in CT said...

How much are the chocolate hedgehogs in US dollars? They are just so cute.

I can't wait to hear the Delta captain say, "Prepare for landing in Moscow."

The Expatresse said...

I didn't look at the price, although the sign in the photo says, what? 690 rubles? That's $20 US. It might have been for the normal-type cakes behind the hedgehogs, however.

Jojo, Julz, Jules said...

I am so glad I found your blog. The trees were set up that way when I was in Moscow in the late fall last time. I wanted to buy the new baby some shoes, and I found the perfect pair and after doing the exchange I realized that the shoes were almost 400.oo US.
I had to amble out of the store in shame...
I wore my CROCs on my trip and although they aren't blinged out, they do have big bow on them. I got lots of looks!!

I want to email you and ask a million questions, is your email listed somewhere....

valentina said...

Oh how wonderful to have anew friend, although it is unfortunate that she lives so far away...

And great that you found the anti-mosquito things...In Italian mosquitoes are called zanzari which is a great word I think...In Italy they would light these coils which burned all night long and killed off the bugs along with your brain cells but I always figured I had enough cells to spare in order to stay bite free. I am so allergic to insect bites...So I am very sympathetic to Skittles and Da.

When I was a kid there was a dept store in dwn twn Pgh which used to fill the ground floor with forsythia and caged canaries every spring. It was really lovely and music heaven. My house smells sweet with lilacs and tulips indoors. Today was a perfect spring day!

Wow more jewel-like than Ste Chapelle seems unimaginable! I'd love to see inside St. Basil's!

I love the color of those terracotta crenalations against that gold wall and all of those earth tones and black and deep green.

So you are back on Dr. A no carbs. Good for you! I am back on WW...

Tomorrow PS and spouse are coming for his b-day cookout and we'll have corn if there is any in the market yet...

We'll practice for when you all come home!


hka said...

do you want to borrow my gym gear? no shoes, already lent to someone, but i've got pants and tops and i will never use them here

South Florida real estate blog said...

As always, love your writing. I've been in a hole for the last few months, so I'm just now catching up with your blog and maybe I'll dust mine off any day now.

MoscowMom said...

Love the Crocs! Katya and I have the same ones with some of the bling... Mine don't have any cartoon characters... She would tell you that you are the EPITOME of fashion.

Congrats on the membership! It's so painful to plunk down all that cash up-front... Sure is incentive to GO REGULARLY!

I heartily recommend Decatholon; it's super. We also buy sports stuff at the Sportmaster Discount center off of Leninsky Prospect.

About the air mattress -- oh, golly, that would be wonderful! I just might take you up on your offer! My plan A is to rent the empty apartment from the man above us for four days... I'm trying to track down his phone number. I think he might even let me use it for free; they were always so sweet when still living in the building... The two grandmas would stay there in air-conditioning, eating down here...

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